HTML 4.5 Anyone? | January 24, 2007
One of the benefits of application development with Flex 2.0 is its wide range of interface elements, or components. The developers have thought about the needs of modern web applications, and created a really handy toolkit of widgets. The widgets are essentially a combination of markup (MXML), styling (CSS) and behaviour (ActionScript), so are not dissimilar to the widgets we have currently. Developers can also create their own widgets, which is both a blessing or a curse. It’s a blessing because if you really need a particular widget you can create it yourself. It’s a curse because it could also lead to a proliferation of non-standard widgets which could ultimately lead to a reduced user experience.
The feeling that the web is outpacing (X)HTML and CSS development has been growing on me for some time. While commercial organisations are quick to react to client feature requests (not always a good thing), it seems that the W3C is getting bogged down in internal politics and the desire to please a diverse group of stakeholders.
As a reaction to this, a group of web developers creating their own “standards” working group called the WHATWG. The result has been a HTML derived a draft specification called Web Applications 1.0. The draft spec includes some very interesting suggestions, along with some more controversial ones.
One recommendation is predefined class names which just smells wrong to me. Class names have always been a way of authors adding their own meaning to a document, and to that end are very powerful. You see them being used very successfully with microformats, which is a good thing. However it is their looseness and flexibility that really gives them their strength, so predefining them seems wrong. We had this discussion in the office and Jeremy rightly pointed out that if you need to mark something up as a copyright message, you should create a copyright element instead.
Looking through their spec, they have recommended a number of new GUI elements and attributes that could prove very helpful.
In part as a reaction to the WHATWG, and in part due to calls from the browser vendors, the W3C have set up a new HTML working group to look at developing HTML further. I’m interested to see what comes of this, although I do worry that 2010 may be a little late.
I’m also interested to see the crossover with the new HTML working group and the web forms working group. Web forms are basically an extension of the existing form controls and adds some interesting features like validating or requiring input and auto completion. Here are some of the additions that look interesting to me, although I’m sure there are more.
- required attribute
- autocompleate attribute
- adding, deleting and moving elements in repetition blocks
- output element
This progress is good, but I think there are a lot more useful elements you could add to both lists. Here are some of the elements I’d like to see in an application focused mark-up language.
- Press and stick buttons
- Vertical and horizontal sliders
- Spin boxes
- Menu element
- Expandable tree navigation
- Date selector with calendar
This is just a start, but I’d be interested to hear what UI elements you think are missing?
Posted at January 24, 2007 3:22 PM